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Fogerty Family - Stars of the Lockdown

Fogerty's Factory was inspired by Creedence Clearwater Revival's 1970 album Cosmo's Factory

If there was ever a list compiled of the “house-bound Americana stars” of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is every chance that popular veteran John Fogerty would top the list!

For Fogerty has been somewhat born-again by the isolation imposed on musicians around the globe during 2020. Well, to be fair to the Creedence Clearwater Revival legend, that should more correctly say … Fogerty and family!

Sure some of the big names of Americana music – the likes of Jason Isbell and wife Amanda Shires immediately spring to mind – have not been shy in coming forward via a Zoom, Skype or YouTube screen near you! But it has been the weekly videos of John Fogerty, together with children Shane, 28, Tyler, 27, and Kelsy,18, performing versions of the popular CCR favourites, that have left a lasting impression.

And these sessions soon led to the release of an E.P. last May, titled Fogery’s Factory, and then, six months later, a full album Fogerty’s Factory (Expanded). A vinyl version was produced last month. The seven tracks on the E.P. are mostly songs composed by Fogerty during his time with CCR, one of the great U.S. rock bands of the late 60’s/early 70’s. Five of these numbers make it to the expanded 12-track version, which sees the family also cut covers of such classics as Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me” and Steve Goodman’s “City of New Orleans.”

Fogerty’s Factory came out on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the release of Cosmo's Factory, one of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s most popular albums. And the cover of the latest release, taken by brother Bob Fogerty, is a clever mirror image – bikes et al - of Cosmo's Factory, right down to the positioning of the players, the font and the colour scheme.

Fogerty’s wife Julie came up with the idea of recording the family jam sessions on her iPhone and then posting them on the internet where they scored more than eight million views. This success soon led to the album concept.

Fogerty explains: “Julie had said let’s call this Fogerty’s Factory. There we were, the whole family coming together and producing music with no real purpose other than to share our love of music and family in a very difficult time. We even re-created the iconic Cosmo’s Factory cover using things we had around the house. Remember no stores or fancy productions were used since nothing was open. It came out perfectly.”

The family backing band was a bit of a challenge. Fogerty told Rolling Stone: “I didn’t castigate my kids. I talked to them like they were professionals. But it’s not supposed to be perfect; people aren’t expecting it to be your next single. We don’t have a drummer, but Shane has developed a bass style that’s somewhat percussive and Kelsy played some snare drum. The spirit of the thing was to be fun. It’s supposed to sound like a jam.”

The finished product doesn’t have the polished engineering of Creedence Clearwater Revival, and the best studio enhancement the seventies could produce - that was never the intention in such unusual circumstances. But the Fogerty “jam” certainly has a distinctive rollicking feel. And this applies in particular to the CCR standards on the E.P. – “Proud Mary,” “Have You Ever Seen The Rain,” “Bad Moon Rising” and "Down On The Corner" among them.

And on the expanded release, Fogerty’s mixes some of his solo material with the classic covers. “Blue Moon Nights,” “Hot Rod Heart” and a nice cut of “Blueboy,” are all from his 1997 album Blue Moon Swamp. And "Centerfield," the title track of his third solo album, opens both versions.

The live jammy feel is further enforced by some political commentary by Fogerty. He introduces a smooth, gentle version of the ageless “Lean On Me” with a dissertation against racism: “Now some people will say ‘ah John I wish you wouldn’t get political, kind of shut up and dribble.’ But this isn’t about politics. It’s about human rights, it’s about empathy, it’s about compassion.”

It was one of his own songs, “Fortunate Son,” – also on Fogerty’s Factory – which had already seen Fogerty enter the political arena. It was written about a Vietnam veteran angry at being drafted while a privileged few were able to dodge the war. And last year, Donald Trump began using the song in the final weeks of the presidential campaign.

“He’s been using it rather consistently, which to me is mind-boggling. I think he’s the fortunate son, but in his mind, he turns that into a good thing. But he seems to relish going 180 on whatever something is,” Fogerty told Rolling Stone at the time.

The success of the Fogerty family’s musical endeavours during the lockdown has prompted speculation as to whether they might go on the road once the music scene returns to normal. Fogerty has not ruled out some sort of tour, but, with fatherly consideration, says it may depend on the college commitments of the youngest member of music’s “pandemic super group.”


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